The truck carrying Takata Corp. airbag inflators exploded “like a big bomb,” said the Texas sheriff whose officers rushed the scene. The cause of the grisly accident last week isn’t known, he said, and the damage was so extensive that a woman killed in the blast was identified only through dental records.
“It created a big crater,” said Tom Schmerber, the sheriff of Maverick County, where the Aug. 22 accident occurred. “It burned and killed a woman in a house 30 feet away. Her body was completely disintegrated, but they did manage to find two teeth so they could identify her.”
It’s another gruesome setback for the auto parts maker behind the industry’s largest-ever recall, now facing possible investigations into its transportation policies after a subcontractor’s truck carrying air-bag inflators exploded, killing one and injuring four people. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he’s “concerned about it” and told the department to investigate.
The truck was carrying 14,000 cylinders that contain airbag propellant, Schmerber said, adding that people in houses 2 miles away called to report broken windows and holes in their roofs. After the crash, many cylinders were scattered across the road and fields. Nearby residents were scared to approach the crash scene on tractors or horseback because they were worried about running over them and triggering additional explosions, he said.
It’s still unclear what caused the truck’s 2 a.m. accident, Schmerber said. The driver and a passenger managed to escape, but two people in a passing car were hurt in the explosion. The accident occurred on U.S. Highway 277, Schmerber said, as the truck was traveling from Del Rio, Texas, to a Takata plant in Eagle Pass.